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FMPC to vote on ABZO

Farragut Municipal Planning Commission members and Farragut residents workshopped the proposed Aquatic Buffer Zone Ordinance for the last time at the regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, June 16 at Town Hall.

ABZO committee chairman Stephen Hildebrand presented the commission with two new alternatives for the ordinance draft given to the committee April 15, which commissioners tabled at the FMPC meeting June 6 and workshopped at a special meeting June 7.

One of the alternatives would provide a range of 15 to 60-foot buffers depending on the stream classification. Alternative two was for a flat 25-foot buffer.

Three commissioners spoke in favor of alternative two, including FMPC Commissioner Fred Jones, an ABZO committee member.

Jones said, “I think twenty-five foot is very adequate … I think we need to really look hard at where the problem is coming from. The primary problem is silt in Little Turkey Creek, and I guess that I maintain that that’s from abusive point-source discharges, abusive construction practices, high velocities in the streams, [which] are moving very rapidly. And I have yet to find any engineering data that really tells me what percent of the problem this water buffer is going to really fix. So I would recommend strongly that we go with alternative two. And I also recommend that we look really hard at whether we want to go with controlling these wet water conveyances. We have a lot of wet water conveyances in the town. I think they’re going to be difficult to manage, difficult to map, so I wonder what they really wind up doing in terms of helping in effectiveness.”

FMPC Commissioners Joel Garber, an alderman, and Robert Edlund said they agreed with Jones.

“I feel the vast majority of the problem is lack of control with construction sites. Until we do something about that to enforce it, then having buffer zones on every stream in town is not going to help the situation,” Garber said.

Hildebrand and FMPC Commissioner Edward St. Clair stated they preferred option one.

“TDEC is out there, and they haven’t set a standard yet,” St. Clair said. “But I think it’s very likely that when they do take a stand, it will be more than twenty-five feet … Just because we deal with it, I don’t think that’s the end of it. I think the public and Farragut need to understand where we’re at.”

Garber said he was concerned about including wet weather conveyances in the ordinance, to which FMPC Chairman Robert Hill said, “I really can’t agree with leaving out wet weather conveyances because I think they are an integral part of the drainage system in the town and to ignore them would be a mistake.”

Hill opened the floor to the public, asking citizens to confine comments to new topics and keep them under three minutes.

Former Mayor Robert Leonard recommended only option two be considered.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that two of the three members [of the ABZO committee] supported a twenty-five foot wide aquatic buffer only,” he said.

Leonard submitted a letter to the Commission in which he “agrees with the thrust of the committee.” In his letter, Leonard also suggested taking out wet weather conveyances.

“I think that you’re using a shotgun to kill a gnat in the wet weather conveyance … I don’t think you ought to do it,” he said.

Leonard also discussed other changes to specific language in the ordinance draft, stating, “The devil’s in the details.”

Hill said he expects the commission to vote on the proposed ordinance at the next FMPC meeting June 30.


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